The Stars beat the Capitals on Thursday night for their 5th straight win. They are playing very, very well right now and things appear to be coming together at a very good time. The Stars, just one blog entry ago were sitting 12th in the West have jumped all the way to #2 in the West and trail only Detroit for the top of the entire Western Conference.
Surely, with 58 games to play, it is a bit early to pop any corks, but the job this team has done in at least showing what they are capable of is remarkable to say the least.
And yet, on the post game show, the knuckleheads doing the broadcast could only discuss the small crowd.
Oh, yeah, I am one of those knuckleheads. I host the post game show.
See, there are two story lines going on right now with Dallas Stars hockey. The first one are the games on the ice - and as I have stated - the team is playing far beyond my expectations entering the season. I did not think this team could make the playoffs as presently constituted, partly because I think it is nearly impossible to build a winner on $45 million in a league where the best teams are spending to the cap (almost $60 million). Can they make the playoffs? To early to tell, but they are off to a real nice start and are now in a position to take that idea quite seriously.
The other story line encompasses all things that are not on the ice: The ownership issue, the payroll issue, the crowd issue, the overall state of the franchise.
And I must admit, I am letting the second story line distract me too much from the first.
On one hand, I don't apologize for that, because I love the sport and the franchise, and a 5-game winning streak is but a drop in the bucket as it pertains to the overall discussion of the NHL in Dallas, Texas. The Stars have played some 1,500 games since moving to Dallas, so a 5 game sample or the first 24 games of a season are not nearly as important as the well being of the franchise from a larger sense.
Is the team stable? Does it have a loyal fan base that can consistently fill the arena? Is hockey healthy here? These issues are always on my mind when I see huge patches of empty seats when the Stars are putting good hockey on the ice against one of the best teams and biggest superstars in the sport.
But, there is a time and place for everything, and the post game show for the win over Washington is not the time to spend an entire hour on why the crowd is so small. And for that, I feel badly.
Why? Because. I was preaching to the choir. Chances are, if you care enough to listen to a post game show on a Thursday night at 10:30, you are already at the arena or glued on tv. You are well aware of the product and want to discuss the finer points of the performance, like the job Andrew Raycroft did or the way the Steve Ott - Adam Burish - Toby Petersen trio locked down on Alexander Ovechkin and friends.
Why ask the 13,000 why only 13,000 were there? They are already in the choir. Isn't the greater question: "why is the rest of the city sleeping on the Stars right now?" And shouldn't we ask the rest of the city?
I want this franchise back to the days of a full arena. I hope it happens soon and I believe it will. I think the city needs to be shown that the new ownership group is committed to winning and ready to move forward with resources poured in and something to believe in.
But, in the meantime, those who have been loyal through thick and thin should not have to hear the sermon again about why the arena is not full. You are already there. You are reading the Stars website. You know how hard to boys are playing. And you like the product or you wouldn't see this column.
So, starting Saturday night, I promise that we will spend way more time on the wins and losses than we do spend time on the business side of the franchise.
You want to talk pucks. So do I. Let's keep our eye on the prize and not worry about things that we can't control. The team has to treat things that way. They have to play every shift the same regardless of how full the upper level is.
Soon, the barn will be full again - but you loyalists will just wonder where everyone has been all of this time.
Good for all of you. Hang in there.
Email Bob at Sturm1310@aol.com and follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/bobanddan
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